Officials are enlisting one of Japan’s best-known historical figures — the ninja — to encourage tourism.
Governors and mayors from prefectures around the country traded their usual bland suits for ninja costumes Sunday to announce the launch of the Ninja Council.
The council sees local authorities forming alliances with tourism agencies to thrust the ninja — usually known for their ability to become nearly invisible — into the spotlight.
The council will gather and provide information on its website about the feudal-era martial arts masters and assassins and about tourist destinations, organizers said.
It will also respond to inquiries from home and abroad, and is scheduled to host events to boost the popularity of the dark warriors.
Ninja are a “subject that always comes up whenever we go abroad to promote tourism,” said Hiroshi Mizohata, former head of the Japan Tourism Agency, which is part of the transport ministry.
The not-so-stealthy move comes as villages, towns and cities turn to tourism as a promising driver of economic growth ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“Through ninja, we want to revive our communities,” said Mie Gov. Eikei Suzuki, which is known as the home of the Iga school of ninjutsu.